Independent providers included in funding for NHS pension hike

Independent providers with staff on NHS pension schemes will receive government funding to cover a major hike in employer contributions due to come into force next month.

Responding to a consultation on changes to public sector pensions, which will see the employer contribution rise 6.3 percentage points to 20.6% on 1 April, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said all employers receiving funding from NHS England budgets or from the NHS to deliver NHS services will receive full funding for the cost increase in 2023/24.

This includes independent providers, social enterprises and charities as well as NHS trusts, CCGs, commissioning support units, GP practices, dentists, hospices and organisations that have access to the NHS Pension Scheme through New Fair Deal.

In 2019/20, the DHSC and NHS England will effectively ‘top up’ the increased employer contributions from a central pot. The funding mechanism for future years has yet to be confirmed.

The news has been welcomed by the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN), which said it hoped the move reflected ‘renewed recognition’ that all providers should be treated equally when there are national changes to NHS terms and conditions.

IHPN CEO David Hare said: ‘This is particularly welcome in the context of the 18/19 NHS pay deal, which saw NHS providers directly funded for pay increases while employers with NHS staff working in the independent, social enterprise and voluntary sectors were overlooked. We are pleased that this has been largely resolved for 19/20 onwards.’

However, he added that the IHPN remains concerned about the position of healthcare contracts funded by local authorities where a portion of the employer contribution increase is not funded by central government.

‘We are working with members to ensure that this is resolved as swiftly as possible,’ he added.